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THE KHILAFAT ISSUE AND CONGRESS’ STAND ON KHILAFAT

THE KHILAFAT ISSUE AND CONGRESS’ STAND ON KHILAFAT

THE KHILAFAT ISSUE

  • The Khilafat issue paved the way for the consolidation of the emergence of a radical nationalist trend among the younger generation of Muslims and the section of traditional Muslim scholars who were becoming increasingly critical of the British rule.
  • This time, they were angered by the treatment meted out to Turkey by the British after the First World War.
  • The Muslims in India, as the Muslims all over the world, regarded the sultan of Turkey as their spiritual leader, Khalifa, so naturally their sympathies were with Turkey. During the War, Turkey had allied with Germany and Austria against the British.
  • When the War ended, the British took a stern attitude towards Turkey- Turkey was dismembered and the Khalifa removed from power.
  • This incensed Muslims all over the world. In India, too, the Muslims demanded from the British
  • (i) that the Khalifa’s control over Muslim sacred places should be retained, and
  • (ii) the Khalifa should be left with sufficient territories after territorial arrangements.
  • In early 1919, a Khilafat Committee was formed under the leadership of the Ali brothers (Shaukat Ali and Muhammad Ali), Maulana Azad, Ajmal Khan and Hasrat Mohani, to force the British Government to change its attitude to Turkey. Thus, the grounds for a country-wide agitation were prepared.

DEVELOPMENT OF THE KHILAFAT- NON-COOPERATION PROGRAMME

  • For some time, the Khilafat learners limited their actions to meetings, petitions, deputations in favour of the Khilafat. Later, however, a militant trend emerged, demanding an active agitation such as stopping all cooperation with the British.                          THE KHILAFAT ISSUE AND CONGRESS’ STAND ON KHILAFAT
  • Thus, at the All India Khilafat Conference held in Delhi in November 1919, a call was made for boycott of British goods.
  • The Khilafat leaders also clearly spelt out that unless peace terms after the War were favourable to Turkey they would stop all cooperation with the Government.
  • Gandhi, who was the president of the All India Khilafat Committee, saw in the issue a platform from which mass and united non- cooperation could be declared against the Government.

CONGRESS’ STAND ON KHILAFAT

  • It was quite clear that the support of the Congress was essential for the Khilafat movement to succeed. However, although Gandhi was in favour of launching Satyagraha and non-cooperation against the Government on the Khilafat issue, the Congress was not united on this form of political action.
  • Tilak was opposed to having an alliance with Muslim leaders over a religious issue and he was also sceptical of Satyagraha as an instrument of politics. According to Prof Ravinder Kumar, Gandhi made a concerted bid to convince Tilak of the virtues of Satyagraha and of the expediency of an alliance with the Muslim community over the Khilafat issue.
  • There was opposition to some of the other provisions of the Gandhi’s non-cooperation programme. also, such as boycott of councils.
  • Later, however, Gandhi was able to them get the approval of the Congress for his programme of political action and the Congress felt inclined to support a non-cooperation programme on the Khilafat question because‑
  1. It was felt that this was a golden opportunity to cement Hindu-Muslim unity and to bring Muslim masses into the national movement; now different sections of society- Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, peasants, artisans, capitalists, tribals, women, students- could come into the national movement by fighting for their own rights and realising that the colonial rule was opposed to them;                                                  THE KHILAFAT ISSUE AND CONGRESS’ STAND ON KHILAFAT
  2. The Congress was losing faith .n constitutional struggle, especially after the Punjab incidents and the blatantly partisan Hunter Commission Report;
  3. The Congress was aware that the masses were eager to give expression to their discontent.                    THE KHILAFAT ISSUE AND CONGRESS’ STAND ON KHILAFAT

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